2018 Marketing Campaign
In September 2018, by cooperation and direction of the COCDC, I executed a marketing campaign focused on two platforms:
- Radio advertising spots with WCVO — 104.9 “The River” in Columbus, Ohio.
- Advertising on Facebook.
The results below measure ONLY how much traffic the advertising platforms drove to the Columbus Square Dance site. The results, unfortunately, cannot measure how effective the advertising was in getting new students in the door.
This had its genesis from a board meeting of Bucks and Does. In August BADS was exploring ways to reach out to new dancers. The president of BADS, Lynn LeMaster, had asked me to look into advertising on Facebook. I did a cursory look around, thought to myself, “This is too complicated to get into right now,” and forgot about it for a couple of days. Independently — and on a pure whim — I reached out to WCVO — a faith-based radio station in Columbus — to ask about their advertising rates. I figured a faith-based station would have the demographics most favorable to our all-inclusive family fun activity. I considered WCOL, which is the #1 radio station in Columbus. It’s a country-and-western music format. I thought it, too, would be friendly to square dancing, but I assumed the advertising rates would be considerably more. I did not seek out any information in advertising on WCOL.
Upon presentation of my information about WCVO, the BADS board approved a “burst campaign” of 11 advertisements to run throughout the day on 9/7/18. The BADS board decided to direct ad respondents to the Columbus Square Dance site instead of the BADS site.
Since this would have the effect of benefiting the entire central Ohio square dance community, Lynn LeMaster proposed at a marketing segment of a regular COCDC meeting that the council pick up the entire cost of the initial 11 radio spots (having already run.) The benefits of that “burst” campaign would not be known until classes started and students could be asked how they discovered the class. With the calendar working against us, the council also approved a second “burst” campaign for another 11 spots to run. Each set of 11 advertisements cost between $450 and $490. It was explained before the second vote the board was voting to spend money on ads without knowing what the first set of ads accomplished.
The advertisement itself was produced by WCVO. I took the audio ad and created a video ad out of it:
Radio Advertisement (with video)
I’m not a fan of the platform. I never have been. Since I can build my own websites, I never saw the need to have a third party host content for me or businesses I owned / managed.
That said, it’s hard to argue with the sheer volume of eyeballs Facebook can bring to a site.
Let’s start with some statistics from my server logs. I want to draw your attention to the daily log of September 7, 2018. That’s the day the first set of 11 radio ads ran. The average number of daily visits to the site for that week — Mon Sep 3 through Thu Sep 7 — was 49.75 people. On Friday, 9/7/18, the day of the radio spots, the visit count went to 81. That’s a 60% increase over the other days of the week. There was no other reason for the traffic to increase on that particular day.
Server Logs 1 (Visitor Stats)
But, 31 extra visitors cost a minimum of $450. That’s what 11 30-second spots cost on WCVO. That’s $14.51 per visitor. $14.51 just to get someone to go take a look at a website. That’s damned expensive.
Now take a look at Saturday, 9/8/2018. That’s the first day the Facebook ads started to run. We went from 81 visitors on “radio-enhanced” Friday to 592 on Saturday. The total cost spent in getting those extra visitors: $19.66. Not 19.66 PER VISITOR. 19.66 TOTAL. Let’s say we kept all 81 visitors from Friday. And Facebook sent “only” 511 on that Saturday. That would be 3.84 CENTS per visitor.
This was all based on the radio ad turned into a video spot (same video as above.)
Radio Advertisement (with video)
That ad was targeted towards people 40+ in age living within 25 miles of the center of Columbus. On the second day of the advertisement, I added another geographic demographic: 25 miles within the center of Mansfield, too. Additionally, a person had to have expressed an interest in either “dance” or “square dance.” (Future advertisements should probably include the associated terms “dancING” and “square dancING.” Perhaps “round dance / dancing,” “contra dance / dancing,” and “line dance / dancing” should be included, too.)
According to Facebook’s algorithms, that gave us a potential audience of 160,000 people. I budgeted $20 per day for 7 days running the video above.
Impressed by the numbers I saw on Facebook’s statistics page, I created three other campaigns on FB where I “boosted” a particular post on the Columbus Square Dance Facebook Page. I used a budget of $30 total for each campaign. The first one was simply the video above as a “boosted post.” I created two other videos, posted them, and boosted them, too. The second video was about 80 seconds long. The third was 45 seconds long.
Facebook Boosted Post (Ad 3) Square Dancing — Friendship Set To Music
Facebook Boosted Post (Ad 4) Columbus Square Dance Center
From Facebook’s statics page, you can see how each ad performed. (As of the time I write this, on 9/19/2018, the Ad 4 is still running. It expires on 9/21/2018.)
Facebook By Ad
Here are the important numbers:
Facebook By Gender
Facebook By Age
Combined, the four ad spots:
- Were seen by 15,318 unique individuals.
- The ads were shown 22,714 times.
- The total cost of that coverage is (so far) 234.12. (About another $15 will be spent on that 4th ad.)
- There were 898 clicks through to the site from those 4 ads. The “Square Dancing — Friendship Set To Music” wasn’t really designed as a “click thru.” More of a “branding” effort. So the click thru rate was considerably lower than the other two ads which were designed to have people take an action.
- We had an average click through rate of nearly 5.8%. On average, most Facebook campaigns rarely get above a 1% click through rate. What we did was rather phenomenal.
- 9847 of those unique individuals were female. They got 17,433 impressions.
- 2684 were male with 4275 showings. The difference has to be in expressing an interest in “dance” / “square dance.” I would imagine more women than men would have those as interests.
- Overall, women clicked through from the ads 4.49% of the time. Men: 1.78%
- Age group 35-44: 1562 unique individuals / 2753 impressions (showings) / 1.85% click through rate.
- 45-54: 3328 individuals / 5414 showings / 2.97% CTR.
- 55-64: 4466 individuals / 7940 showings / 4.37% CTR.
- 65+: 3240 individuals / 5701 showings / 5.26% CTR.
Belatedly, I remembered my Google Analytics account. I turned it on for the Columbus Square Dance site and caught only the last few hours of the first three Facebook ads / campaigns. There really was no surprising information in Google’s analytics, but, for completeness sake:
Google Analytics By Device
Google Analytics By City
The overwhelming number of visitors used a mobile device to check out the site. Not surprising when you consider the overwhelming number of visitors were coming from Facebook. Most Facebook users get there through their cell phones.
Additionally, it shouldn’t be a surprise those most visitors were from the Columbus area.
In further testament to Facebook’s power to send eyeballs our way, this set of server logs shows the different pages accessed. I’ve highlighted the page /lessons-fb. That was a special page I set up that can’t be reached on the Columbus Square Dance site by the menu. It is a carbon copy of the regular “lessons” page. But the link to the “*-fb” page was placed on all the ads. The only way to reach that page directly was to click on the Facebook ads. As you can tell from the logs here, that special FB lessons page was viewed 3199 times. 2940 people came to that page directly. (That’s the “entry” column.)
By comparison, the most popular page on the site to this point in September 2018 (outside of the home page) is the /media/ page (where links to pictures and videos are.) For the entire same amount of time that the FB lessons page was viewed 3199 times, the media page had 1/15th the traffic at just 240. Views. The “real” lessons page only had 226 views.
Server Logs 2 (Page Stats)
Let me bring back up the visitor log:
Server Logs 1 (Visitor Stats)
Scroll down to the bottom of that chart so that you can see the entire year’s worth of visitors. April 2018 was the first month of CSD’s existence and enjoyed only 164 visitors. 398 came in May. 314 more in June, 624 in July, and 559 in August.
But in September, when we fired up the monster that is Facebook, to date, 3003 visitors. Almost 6 times as many visitors as the previous month. All attributable to Facebook.
One other thing to take a look at in the visitor spreadsheet above: Friday, September 14. Notice the number of visits was 277. That was the smallest number of visitors during the week Mon-Fri. Remember: Friday 9/14 is the date the SECOND SET OF RADIO ADS were broadcast. The site actually recorded no new visitors on a day $450 was spent trying to attract them.
Analysis / Conclusions
There is really only one metric that counts in all of this: how many students did we obtain from these advertising platforms? Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know from these charts and graphs above. All we can measure are how many people visited a particular page on a particular website. The clubs will have to individually query their new students and ask them, “How you’d find out about us?”
The only thing we can measure is how effective each advertising platform was in delivering eyeballs to us. Unquestionably, Facebook delivered a ton of traffic at an incredibly reasonable price. Total spent on radio: $900~. Total spent on Facebook: ~$250.
But allow me to caution you that you can’t say “Radio was a disappointment — let’s stick with Facebook.” What if 30 to 40 people responded to our radio advertisements and all of them are going to join a class? Facebook users tend to do a lot of “Likes” while not carrying it further. If none of the thousands of people who clicked through followed up and joined a class, it doesn’t matter how much (or little) we spent on Facebook. If any platform doesn’t deliver the students, it’s not a good advertising platform.
My conclusion is that radio (and potentially cable TV) should be used to compel someone to take action. Run a radio / cable TV spot for several weeks instead of a single day. (We were all up against the calendar this year and didn’t have much of a choice.) Let’s check in with WCOL next year. It’s the most listened to radio station in Columbus and its format is country & western — another natural market for square dancing.
Use Facebook year-round for branding. Basically, “product awareness.” As videos are posted to the Columbus Square Dance site, they should be cross-posted to Facebook. Make a budget of, say, $100~ a month to boost / promote those videos / other postings. Just to keep “our name” out front.
Other things that we as an organization need to consider:
- Our “product.” Is there something wrong with our “product”? Our product being Square Dancing in general and a 30 week class specifically. (Anecdotal, but take it for what it’s worth with a huge grain of salt: Some of the “shares” of the ads / posting on FB could be seen as “derisive.” They could have been easily seen as mocking. One of the persons sharing the ad on their own timeline put a comment, “Are people STILL square dancing?” Another person commented on one of the videos I’d posted, “Where are all the young people”? The poster herself wasn’t exactly a spring chicken.)
- Are we using the wrong advertising platform? We’ve touched on radio and Facebook. What else might be out there that would be a good fit?
- Our presentation of our product. Are we emphasizing the wrong aspects of it? Not emphasizing things which would make it attractive to new customers?
I will stipulate that I believe that Square Dancing has a huge image . . . “issue” . . . to deal with. “Civilians” (I believe) have a “barn dance” / high school gym class / hoe-down image of a fiddle, a twangy-caller, and corn-pone “Hee Haw” “aw shucks” event that wouldn’t appeal.
But that’s not necessarily a BAD thing. In fact, that image may work to our benefit if we play it in a “tongue in cheek” kind of way. “Heck yeah, while we’re more than fiddles and ruffles and bows and “floofy” skirts, we embrace all of that and have an ABSOLUTE BALL with it all!” It seems sometimes we’re almost apologetic about being devotees to this great art. We should embrace the fiddles and the floof!
Look at this video:
Rambling House Video
(At the 9 second point the girl in glasses with the black top and tattoos on her arm — and purple / blue hair — that’s my youngest daughter.)
My daughter and I went to the Rambling House on Hudson Street in Columbus this past Monday, 9/17. On the 3rd Monday of each month Rambling has a “square dance.” It’s what we Western SDancers would call a “hoe down.” But look at the makeup of this crowd. Young dancers having a hoot on the floor to the most fiddle-y, twangy calling I’ve ever heard. There was one other old guy on the floor (other than me) and a more “mature” young lady (she’s a contra club leader / dancer), but other than those two all the other dancers were decades younger than our average Western Dancer. These kids were having a great time . . . which — to me — means there IS a POTENTIAL market for our product with young people. (To be fair, perhaps in THIS particular case the product is a bar on Monday night with dancing thrown in. We can’t exclude that possibility.)